Asia Minute: Korean Peninsula: Diplomatic Pressure, Olympic Cooperation

Jan 18, 2018

Unification of Korea Flag
Credit Wikimedia Commons

This weekend’s false alarm about a missile attack has refocused attention on security on the Korean peninsula, but also on diplomacy. And it’s been an active several days on that front. HPR’s Bill Dorman has more in today’s Asia Minute.

North and South Korea have been continuing to talk details about presenting a kind of united front at the winter Olympics—starting three weeks from Friday.

So far, the plan is for the two teams to march together in the opening ceremonies—under a white flag with a blue map of the entire Korean peninsula.

That “Korean Unification Flag” has been used several times—starting at an international ping pong tournament in 1991. It last flew over a joint delegation at the 2006 winter Olympics in Turin, Italy. South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency reports the two countries will also put together a single team for women’s ice hockey in what would be the first joint team for any sport.

But despite those feel good stories, there is also caution.

Japan’s Foreign Minister sounded a note of skepticism. Taro Kono said “I believe that North Korea wants to buy some time to continue their nuclear and missile programs.”

Kono made his remarks in Vancouver, Canada—where officials from 20 countries gathered to talk about sanctions and other diplomatic pressure on North Korea.

China was not invited, neither was Russia, two of North Korea’s few remaining trading partners.

A spokesperson at China’s Foreign Ministry called the meeting “a product of cold war thinking.” Adding “only through dialogue…can a way to an effective and peaceful resolution be found.”